I had received her text message while in the middle of an afternoon meeting. At first I thought it was some joke, except for a very brief and ill conceived reunion event of the cast from our old sitcom a few months before I hadn't spoken to her in almost twenty years. Emma had stormed into the rented and nearly empty banquet hall acting like the energetic and mischievous ten-year old child star I met at the beginning of our sickly sweet television show. I was eight-years old at the time and I fell in love with her from the beginning despite the fact we were playing brother and sister orphans being raised by our wise old grandfather. Even though the event was advertised as a happy reunion of cast members who thought of each other as family it was obviously designed just to resuscitate Emma's comatose career
Of course, she and I eventually posed for pictures together in front of the small collection of disinterested paparazzi that attended but the second they drifted away she literally ran after them leaving me behind. Unlike the rest of the cast, I stayed to the end with Emma crying on my shoulder for several minutes as a reward for my patience. When we finally parted something deep inside told me I never see her again. So, it was quite the shock when I received her message pleading for me to come save her.
After the end of my meeting I sat in my car for thirty minutes staring at the screen of my cell phone wondering if I should head over to the address she gave. Eventually figuring I had nothing to lose I drove across Los Angeles just to satisfy my curiosity. The address turned out to be an old warehouse whose interior had been converted into small apartments. I imagined the developers of the building had wanted it to be an upscale location for young professionals but shifting neighborhood lines had claimed the area making it more than slightly dangerous.
With the door now swinging loose, I looked in from the threshold, her place seemed clean and well kept with mementos of her television and music career adoring the shelves of a couple of bookcases and walls. Everything looked so orderly that I again became concerned for a moment that maybe this had been some huge mistake. When the overwhelming stench of liquor and death finally hit me that was when I stepped inside.
Looking to my right I immediately spotted Emma's body and her nightstand where a decorative box containing a multicolored collection of pills and a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels sat giving a clear indication of how she took her life. I also couldn't help but notice that Emma's body was contorted into something akin to a seductive, “come hither” pose. It was a sick thought but given Emma's behavior the last couple of years it did not take much for me to believe it was one final act of defiance to tell the world that while it might have used her up and tossed her to the side of the road it in turn could go straight to Hell.
The sitcom she and I starred in made us nationally famous for about six years. When the series ended my fame evaporated overnight thrusting me back into the real world. The effects of puberty and a severe case of teenage acne had robbed me of my charming boyish innocence and the network producers simply dropped me like the proverbial bad apple. In terms of simple numbers there was probably a couple of thousand better looking teenage boys coming to LA each year wanting their chance in show business. So I was less than nothing to those who made the big decisions about who to promote or send home.
However, a whole spectrum of producers and agents fell all over themselves to make sure Emma stayed in the national spotlight. She immediately became a leading cast member of television drama series and a mere two years later they again moved her into the music business. Her career soared with the entertainment journalists constantly floating rumors that with her ethereal beauty and devastating acting ability she could be the next Elizabeth Taylor.
It was always clear from the beginning that the big players in Hollywood had every intention of making her a major movie star. Sitting home nursing a bruised ego and a growing envy over her success I remember the massive promotional campaign on the eve of her first movie. I also remember how it was a massive box office disaster with special criticism aimed at Emma's awful performance.
Five major flops later her once golden career is destroyed with her eventually reduced to singing in the food courts of shopping malls and struggling to win a spot on some reality show. That was when her outrageous acts and stupid stunts exploded increasingly making her a laughing stock all across the country. All she got for her desperate efforts was an existence living off residual checks in a second-rate apartment all alone.
Looking at her dead body I had no real idea why she called me, even in the best of times we were never close. The only assumption that comes to my mind is that during our series my character was the nice and always responsible brother who dearly loved his sister despite her mischievous ways. The day she cried on my shoulder after the disaster that was our reunion event only seemed to back that idea up.
With nothing left to do I call the police and tell them what has happened. Naturally they tell me to wait and I move back towards the entrance of the apartment. Not before I pull out my cell phone and start taking pictures of Emma's body, her apartment, and the pills on the nightstand. The tabloids will pay a bundle for such pictures and I have child support I have to pay.